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Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges on the 99 Percent
Posted on Oct 6, 2011
Josh Scheer: Now, I want to ask you—I’m angry, obviously; we see the Occupy Wall Street people, they’re angry; there’s a lot of angry people in this country, with the approval ratings and everything else. But we don’t maybe want to vote Republican; we don’t want to be part of the tea party; we, obviously, maybe no one will vote for the president, the current president. What do we do? I mean, what do you do if you’re just angry? Should we just go out and protest and make our voices heard?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Well, let’s talk about the nature of any protest movement. The importance of protest is—and particularly today—is that people become visible. It is through our personal physical presence, through our own visibility merging with others, that we are able to demonstrate, en masse, our objection to the current affairs. And this is a very powerful statement. It’s consistent with our constitutional privilege of freedom of speech and right to assemble, and it’s consistent with the American tradition that wherever change was brought about, it was not brought about because Washington suddenly decided, through its munificence, that one day it would create a situation where people of color would have full rights; where one day it would create a situation where women would have the right to vote; one day it [would create] a situation where there would be a health care program for seniors. So many of these movements started in the streets. And so we really need a movement for economic justice, and the only place it’s going to start is in the streets. But not, you know—it’s profound that we’re seeing Wall Street be the target, because people are making the connection. Instead of just coming outside the Capitol, they’re going outside Wall Street. It’s a different kind of “capital,” c-a-p-i-t-a-l. And that kind of capital has great power to direct the affairs of our nation. And that’s something, that the awareness of the Wall Street occupiers is such that all over the country people are starting to pay attention, and they’re starting to create similar protests in their own communities. And frankly, I think there are millions and millions of Americans who are demanding a level of economic change that the system currently can’t even begin to comprehend; and yet the failure of the system to do so will result in the system being dramatically changed within the next few years.
Josh Scheer: Well, I just want to wrap up with one quick question about your redistricting. And I know that you’ve been redistricted, and I want to let our listeners know what they can do for you, but also, what’s the situation in Ohio?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: The district that I’m running in right now is a district that has been created through the merging of two congressional districts, the 10th District—or three congressional districts—the 10th District, which I represent; the 13th District, which Betty Sutton represents; and the 9th District, represented by [Marcia (Marcy)] Kaptur. So 54 percent of the registered Democrats from my district are in a new district, and 34 percent are from Ms. Kaptur’s district, and 12 percent from Ms. Sutton’s district. So at this point, it looks like I’m headed for a primary against my friend from Toledo, Marcia Kaptur. It’s nothing that I sought, but the Republicans drew a district that extends a hundred miles along Lake Erie. So, you know, I have a primary election on March the 6th, and I am preparing for it. Because the election’s now—it’s about, oh, roughly about 153 days. And so it becomes urgent that I organize and do all the other things that are necessary to be able to get people involved in the campaign.
Square, Site wide
Josh Scheer: And then, obviously, you’re on H.R. 2990, and I just want to let people know again it’s the [National Emergency] Employment Defense Act. And you can write your congressman, if you’re listening to this in any other part of the country, to vote for it. Thank you so much for joining us.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: I appreciate being on the phone with you, and I look forward to speaking with you again.
Josh Scheer: Oh, yeah. Have a great day, congressman.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Bye, now.
Peter Scheer: That was Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaking with Truthdig’s Josh Scheer.
Howie Stier: [Dragnet music] That memorable theme accompanies the establishing shot of TV’s “Dragnet,” depicting the iconic Los Angeles City Hall building—that towering structure of marble and limestone, a monument to municipal corruption erected at a staggering cost during the Great Depression. And this past
The presence of mass “hacktivists” and bandanna-ed anarchists, professional protesters, the uninsured, college students and college dropouts embracing the moment they had long anticipated. “Oh, how goodly are your tents, Jacob”: those words of a strange prophet, inspired by the sight of the camp of the Israelites, come to mind, evoked by the scene this morning in downtown Los Angeles on the fifth day of the Occupy L.A. demonstration. Not just because of the physical deployment of some 60 tents of the protesters’ high-speed camping gear, neatly arrayed around two sides of L.A.’s City Hall, but because the atmosphere here, in the early morning rain, is charged with a feeling of spirituality and a communal outpouring that is greater than an expression of discontent with the way things are.
Those who set up camp the first night were mostly people who, according to organizers, had, open quotes, “challenged living conditions,” but since then their two dozen tents have grown to some 60. This is part Burning Man, part wartime field seminar. The occupiers are kept busy by organizers who have the day scheduled out as ambitiously as any Dragon Mom. At 8 a.m., a breakfast of coffee ladled from a cooler, and eggs and fruit donated by local businesses, is served. Then the arts and entertainment committee kicks in. Throughout the day, occupiers listen to speakers, discuss the issues that drew them here, and share skills. Pizza pies arrive en masse, the boxes quickly recycled into perfectly proportioned signs, and on Monday afternoon the group rallied for a march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Support from those commuting during crunch hour was evident when drivers dropped beats, honking horns in solidarity rather than in frustration at marchers snarling traffic.
There are two elements common to any public gathering in L.A. that are noticeably missing from this action; first, the smell of California super-weed; and second, there are no men in blue—no cops to be seen anywhere. And only a single strand of yellow tape cordons off the upper steps of City Hall. And the protesters abide; and to a person, none are fearful of a confrontation, or catching a wooden shampoo should a change in policing come down.
Howie Stier: Tell me your name.
Protester No. 1: My name is Anonymous.
Howie Stier: You’ve been out here all weekend?
Protester No. 1: Oh, yeah. I’ve been out here from the beginning, from Saturday till now.
Howie Stier: What do you expect to accomplish?
Protester No. 1: I’m not sure any of us know what our goals are. As you can tell, even on Wall Street they don’t know what they’re doing yet. The only one thing that they do know is that something is wrong with this world, and it needs to be changed. We’re not going to get any specific demands, and people should know that, because some people don’t want this system anymore. This system is far beyond corrupted. Some people just want a whole new way of life.
Howie Stier: And how long do you plan to be out here?
Protester No. 1: As long as it takes. Couple weeks, couple months, couple days.
Protester No. 2: It’s not OK to …
Child: Take away money!
Protester No. 2: Ah-hah. Or …
Child: Take away jobs.
Howie Stier: What do you do?
Protester No. 3:Right now I’m unemployed. But I’m trying to get work in the software industry. I’m a software engineer.
Howie Stier: You studied software engineering?
Protester No. 3: Yes, I have.
Howie Stier: You have student loans to pay back?
Protester No. 3: I have over $100,000 in student loans right now.
Howie Stier: And how long have you been unemployed?
Protester No. 3: Since June.
Howie Stier: You haven’t been unemployed that long.
Protester No. 3: No.
Howie Stier: There are some people here who haven’t worked in years. You’re not that personally affected, yet you’re prepared to stay here for the long haul. You’ve got a pillow, you’ve got a cooler, you’ve got water. Why are you here?
Protester No. 3: I’m here for two reasons. One is my generation, the people who are 18 to 24, are in the 18th percent unemployment. We have a future that we’re trying to breed, and we can’t even get work. So that’s one part of the reason I’m here. The other part is I have family members, friends, people I talk to—they don’t know about these protests. Even the Wall Street one which is now two weeks, going into the third week. They have no idea what’s going on. So I’m here to just kind of broadcast to them why we’re here, what’s going on, what they’re about, just to kind of open their eyes.
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